New Waters – Texas Coastal Bend

Many things in life change; like leaders, tippets, flies, fly lines and Destinations.

Looking East at Port Aransas Jetties

Early morning sunrise flyfishing in the South Texas Coastal Bend

Some of them unexpectedly and even sometimes unplanned and hopefully things turn out more rosy than imagined. After working the grindstones of New York City for what 6 years seemed to have been 12 and for the most exciting times of my life, day in and day out, non-stop action on and off the water, I recently have found myself settled in South Texas after a grueling past year with some seriously pinched nerves. Warm climate seems to be the best medicine for this country boy, aside from actually being able to see the stars at night.

Quite literally, having run out of road in Port Aransas, Texas, a place twice visited by President Roosevelt to fish for Tarpon, the little piece of Mustang Island north of the Laguna Madre is a nice spit of sand and hopefully is here to stay for a while.

Upon arrival I immediately began scouting the local waters and found many excellent fishing scenarios available.

red fish wetlands

Redfish habitat

Whether on foot or from some sort of watercraft of your choice, the rich biodiversity of the marine ecosystems in the South Texas Coastal Bend area will get you hooked and keep you coming back for more. Truly, this place is prime and the fish are eager.

To get up to speed, I’ve compiled short bit of notes on the fly fishing opportunities available in this area from boat and on foot (sand, mud, rocks, beaches, rip-raps, jetties, bulkheads, cuts, guts, swaths, piers and docks), and will continue to track fish patterns based on seasons and other relevant environmental conditions.

Fly fishing Corpus Christi

Hooked up!

In October, the redfish are running hard and is prime time for bull reds. I feverishly attempted to intercept these big bulls on fly, although it may take some more time to nail them consistently.

Port Aransas Texas Coastal Bend Tarpon

Fly Fishing juvie tarpon in South Texas

At the jetties, multiple shots from juvenile tarpon exist with a good chance of hooking up.


Even during the North blows, the Spanish mackerel even respond well. The larger tarpon in the 60-80lb class have also been sighted with a keen eye. I have yet to hook into a tarpon in this size range but they do visit Port Aransas during certain times of the year.

Gulf of Mexico King Mackerel

Speed Demons like this make smoking hot drags!

King Mackerel also come in close to shore and are a serious test of your tackle and fish fighting skills. A lone 30-lb king mack like this one can take 175yds of line off the spool in about 10-seconds flat.

During November, the redfish continue to haunt the flats, while the speckled trout are lurking around the edges keenly out of sight. Bird variety and populations begin to explode in the marshes, flats, and along every 50 yard stretch of mangroves. Spoonbills are a treat to sight with their pink colored plumage and odd head/neck behavior when feeding. They are truly marvelous animals! Seagulls and terns take flight all along the beaches and fight every morning for their next meal. When times are tough the terns will even sit on the backs of the pelicans immediately after the pelican dive-bomb some bait and the tern will pick scraps from the pelicans beak as it drains the bucket-loads of seawater from its pouch filtering the bait fish it had caught.

mangrove cays

Mangrove cays such as these are excellent fish attractors

Load of mullet in all sizes keep the water shaken but not stirred unless a over slot red fish cruises nearby. Nervous water appears on every turn in the shoreline, and with the multitude of mangrove islands the next trophy red could be ahead. Top water flies are good game this time of year and can produce some exciting takes from redfish on the flats.

Mangrove snapper are also plentiful and can fill up a 5-gallon bucket quickly with small pieces of shrimp dangled around the rocks. Or you could simply tie on a small clouser and nymph-fish it around the rocks as well although you don’t need boobers. Sometimes anglers get lucky and bag a nice Gag Grouper from the rocks.

grouper from the rocks

Nice Gag Grouper from the rocks at Port Aransas

For now it seems the variety of species is dwindling but the redfish, trout, and flounder are still abundant and should hold average population levels to keep fisherman busy throughout the winter down here in South Texas. There are always rumors of snook lurking and can be a tough challenge on fly given their rare but confirmed presence in the coastal waters of the Laguna Madre.

The one secret I can really tell you is you gotta go (fishing) to know (fishing).

Keeping the hooks sharp,
Captain Ken Jones
Spotted some redfish

Popular redfish hang-out